Film Spoilers Really Don’t Matter

SPOILER ALERT: JIM ROSS will argue that if you can only enjoy a film without ‘spoilers’, maybe it wasn’t that good at all.

film trailers jim ross prometheus soylent green spoilers the cabin in the woods the dark knight rises the sixth sense

You know The Sixth Sense, yeah? Bruce Willis was a ghost all along.

Pissed off? Don’t be, The Sixth Sense is still a good film and well worth watching. Besides, it was released in 1999. If you think I’ve ruined the film, it highlights a key problem with moans about revealing trailers and so-called ‘spoilers’. Even ignoring the fact that much cinema is based on literary or stage sources, when you sneak a look at the final two pages of a novel, you only stop reading if you’re already fed up with it. Why do we think this should be any different with cinema?

It seems trailers often divide opinion far more than the features they advertise. Despite generally positive critical consensus on the film itself, the internet was extremely flustered recently over whether the trailer for The Cabin In The Woods revealed too much. Spoiler: it didn’t, really. The apparent trend for ‘spoiler’ trailers is nothing of the sort, it’s been happening for decades. The only thing that has changed is the way we consume them, and our access to them. If there is nothing worth seeing in a film after watching a 2-minute trailer, or even having a key plot development shoved in your face thanks to the web (or an opinionated film writer…), then the rest of the film might not be that good in the first place.


Does this trailer reveal too much? No, and it doesn’t matter anyway

Take the trailer for sci-fi classic Soylent Green; I challenge you to watch it and not be 100% clear on what “the secret of Soylent Green” is come the end. This film was released in 1973, so this is hardly a new phenomenon. What is new is the microscope trailers come under thanks to the internet and social media. Had Prometheus or The Dark Knight Rises been released in the 70s, or even the 90s, they wouldn’t have obsessives dissecting every frame on YouTube before spreading any spoilers far and wide. With drip-feed viral marketing, however, the situation is hardly likely to regress from the current position.

Obviously, I’m exaggerating slightly and the best trailers pique interest without giving the game away, but trailers necessarily reveal more than their creators perhaps want to. Who is going to watch a film that, having consumed its 2-minute pitch, appears vague, uncertain or even dull? Well, I would, but I’ll watch anything once. Most people won’t bother, though. The best films don’t need to keep back the ending to engross the viewer.

Saying “don’t watch trailers, then” is a cheap shot, but is entirely valid in this context. You have a choice – accept that films apparently ruined by revealing too much in trailers (or even plot details) were perhaps not all that good in the first place, or don’t watch them. Ignorance is bliss, and all that. If you don’t, then I salute you. If you do and still moan about it, then you have a decision to make.

In the meantime, I’ll be consuming trailers and reading Wikipedia articles by the dozen.


The most dissected trailer of the year so far?